Athlone is in a very unique position spanning two counties, and town councillors are to make a submission to Minister Phil Hogan regarding the proposed Local Government Reform which would do away with Athlone Town Council.
At the suggestion of Cllr Alan Shaw, a subcommittee, consisting of Cllrs Shaw, Aengus O’Rourke, Sheila Buckley Byrne, and mayor Jim Henson, is to make a submission to Minister Phil Hogan on their concerns for Athlone, in particular how the Monksland area will be served by the new system.
“Monksland is as much a part of Athlone as where we are now, and it should be recognised,” said Cllr Mark Cooney.
The council’s longest-serving member, Cllr Kieran Molloy, said he was “very disappointed” with the proposed reforms, drawing attention to Athlone Castle and the Regional Sports Centre as examples of council success stories.
“Are we going to have to go, cap in hand, to the county council looking for money?” he wondered, while Cllr Aengus O’Rourke said the reforms were “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
“It’s a cost-saving exercise more than reform,” he added.
Cllr Paul Hogan said the reforms would remove decision-making powers from local authorities, while Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne was concerned about commercial rates paid in the town being “subsumed into county level” and Cllr Gabrielle McFadden said the report implied that the current system hadn’t been working.
However Cllrs Alan Shaw, Mark Cooney, and Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran were more welcoming of the document outlining reform.
Cllr Cooney said he hoped the changes would do away with the “huge duplicity and waste of resources”, while Cllr Moran said that, while there would be fewer public representatives, whoever is elected would retain a say on how the town is run.